The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will conclude a 90-day public comment period for Phase 0 oyster lease applications on Tuesday, May 4.
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission established the public comment period to bring transparency to the leasing process and provide coastal landowners with an opportunity to comment on new lease applications.
“The execution of Phase 0 is an important first step in lifting the long-standing oyster lease moratorium,” LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet said.
Any individual wishing to protest an oyster lease application must do so, in writing and via certified mail, by the close of business May 4.
Through Acts 570 and 595 enacted in 2016, the Louisiana Legislature established a phased approach to lift the oyster lease moratorium and resolve coastal use conflicts.
- Phase 0 (Current Phase) – Pre-Moratorium Lease Applications Are Processed
- LDWF, the Office of State Lands (OSL), and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) will review oyster lease applications that were being processed when the oyster lease moratorium began. There are currently 35 applications that will be reviewed prior to the state issuing a lease agreement.
- Phase I – Right of First Refusal for Non-Renewed Avenal Leases
- Leaseholders of a group of 274 oyster leases that were not renewed due to impacts from the Caernarvon fresh water diversion may apply for reinstatement of their lease(s).
- Phase II – Incorporation of Adjacent Water Bottoms
- Lessees may apply to expand an existing lease to incorporate immediately adjacent water bottoms not currently under lease.
- Phase III – Right of First Refusal for Lessees under Private Lease
- Lessees may record any privately-issued lease in effect as of February 1, 2016, with LDWF. These leases will be reviewed and portions of the lease may be converted into a state lease agreement.
- Phase III information should be submitted as soon as possible to avoid any potential conflicts.
- Phase IV – First Lottery Phase
- A lottery for the right to apply for an oyster lease opens to the general public.
- Phase V – Second Lottery Phase
- A second lottery may be held if LDWF feels it is warranted.
Please note that any individual wishing to participate in Phase III of the moratorium lifting process should begin submitting the appropriate documentation to LDWF and OSL at this time.
Additional information about the Phase 0 Applicants can be found at https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/oyster-lease-moratorium-lifting.
General information about the commercial oyster fishery, including stock assessments, licensing, maps and regulations, can be found at https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/subhome/commercial-oyster.
For answers about the oyster lease moratorium lifting process, please contact Marc Maniscalco, Oyster Lease Program Manager, at (504) 284-5277